An Interview with Robert Essig

Today folks, I bring you the talented Mr. Robert Essig, one of the first people I met in the writing industry. Robert’s work has been featured in a long, long list of places. He has been editor for several projects as well. Good morning Mr. Essig, and welcome to my blog. Let me start off by asking you a little about the Through the Eyes of the Undead volumes.

Q. Is it a difficult task to switch modes between writing and editing your own work, and focusing on the work of others?

A. It can be. When I get to the editing process with one of my anthologies I tend to direct my focus solely to that anthology until the manuscript is finished on my end and sent to be formatted. But during the reading phase I continue to work on my own writing. Currently I am writing my second novel and finishing up submissions for Through the Eyes of the Undead 2. Once I determine a TOC for TtEotU 2 I will probably finish the first draft of the novel before editing the anthology.

Q. Can you give those unfamiliar with these books a sneak peek of what they can expect, perhaps whet our appetites so to say?

A. Quite simply, stories through the perspective of a zombie or zombies. These stories are accounts of what the undead see after reanimation.  Some are quite literal in that they are written in the first person POV, while others are the more common third person tale where the protagonist is a zombie. I try to stray from your typical zombie story and include a variety of sub-genres whenever possible, however in reading for the second volume most of the submissions that have made the short list so far have been straight horror. And that’s just fine with me.

Q. I do know that the first volume of Through the Eyes of the Undead was a great success–even recently making an appearance on the Library of the Living Dead’s (now known as Twisted Library Press) top monthly sellers list. Do you anticipate another great lineup and similar success for book two?

A. I sure hope so. The stories that are short listed so far are great, so I know the quality will be up to par. I hope those who enjoyed the first one take a chance on the second one and help spread the word.

Q. Now I am a little biased about your other editing project, Malicious Deviance, in large because I did the artwork for the book. I’ve yet to read it, but the lineup for that book looked fantastic. Can you tell us what readers can anticipate within its pages?

A. Malicious Deviance is my pride and joy. I love a good story about bad people, and I write a lot of them, but they can be a difficult sell, so I asked if people would be interested in reading a book of bad-ass stories about bad people, and overwhelmingly the answer was “yes!” If you like an evil or disagreeable protagonist, gruesome horror, and just plain out odd stories, then you’ll like Malicious Deviance.

Q. As of now, can you give us any projection as to what you think your next editing project might be? Maybe a small clue or hint even to what you think the theme might be for the anthology?

A. I cannot.  Not because I don’t want to or that am sworn to secrecy, but because there’s nothing in the works.  I had an idea that I proposed over a year ago to Dr. Pus, and he was on board, but it’s been so long that I’ve kind of tucked it in the back of my mind for now. I can’t hint at it for fear that someone may read this and snag it. It really is a great idea…at least I think so.

Q. Many know of Robert’s writing, but in case you don’t, you need to get out there and check him out. I love a story he sold to an online magazine, entitled “Rusted Roots.” For me the concept was so parallel to the way in which technology appears to be heading, in a weird way of course. Do you find yourself looking towards the future and taking that sort of thing into consideration when coming up with the idea for a story like this? I mean, do your stories emulate the way you feel about society?

A. “Rusted Roots” completely emulates my view of society and life as a whole—the idea of growing old and witnessing so many things you cherish fade away.  I’m convinced that we grow old and become bitter about social changes so that we can more easily accept the fact that we have to die. This story takes witnessing societal changes to the extreme. Perhaps the most tragic piece I’ve ever written.

Q. You also had a story in the last issue of Necrotic Tissue. It was sad to see a market like that go out of business. I was wondering what your take on the whole small press market is, and how it affects writers in a general sense. Do you think it creates more opportunities for unheard authors? How do you see the POD method of publishing evolving down the line?

A. I think the small press is a great place for new and seasoned authors alike.  The big New York presses tend to play it safe and they like the familiarity of King, Koontz and other such bestsellers, as well as trends (insert sparkling vampire here). The small press is wide, perhaps too much so.  I think one of the big issues recently are all the presses that aren’t paying their authors.  Of course there are going to be exposure only presses, but there sure are a lot of them as of late, and I have to wonder how much exposure authors are really getting being published there.  I think POD is great because it keeps print books alive in the age of everything going digital, and it is a blessing for the small press in that they don’t have to commit to a costly print run.  On the other hand, this also means just about anyone can be a publisher, so it is wise to do your homework.  I know I made my own mistakes when I started.

Q. You’ve been a busy man as of late. I saw one of your longer works pop up earlier this year I believe–a chapbook with Panic Press? Can you enlighten us on Pantomime?

A. Pantomime is a chapbook containing four short stories, two originals and two reprints.  The title story was the first story I ever sold back in 2008 to Tales of the Talisman. Still one of my favorites.  The other three stories delve deeply into various aspects of humanity—shame, fear, loss, sadness.

Q. And then just recently you have had a whole slew of announcements. You have a novella double feature coming out, is that correct? One that you worked on with Mr. Craig Sanders?

A. That’s right. Scarecrow and The Madness features two novellas from myself and Mr. Saunders. The book is one of the projects that came out Blood Bound Books’ first novel/novella submission period earlier this year. I’m excited about the project, and even more so now that I’ve seen the cover art, which is wonderfully gruesome.

Q. Can you give us a projected release date on this book?

A. Blood Bound Books is shooting for a December release.

Q. I believe you also have a big project in the works. You have what I believe is your first novel coming out through the Library of Horror, entitled People of the Ethereal Realm, correct?

A. Yes! I’m excited to finally see this book go to print after several years writing, re-writing, and editing it. I’m happy to be working with a publishing company that I have some miles with.

Q. It sounds intriguing, and judging by the title alone I picture some dark horror in a fantasy environment–sort of a mixed genre. Is that a correct assumption? What can you tell us about this fantastic book?

A. Horror/dark fantasy just about nails it, though probably a bit more on the horror side (the lines are so very blurry). People of the Ethereal Realm came from me wondering if someone could fall in love with a ghost. This is no paranormal romance, so don’t get the wrong idea, but the plot grew from that seed and soon enough I began writing about a disturbance with the ethereal people (those in the limbo between the realms) as witnessed by Gerald, a blind man with the special gift of clairvoyance. And then there’s Adam who lives across town engaging in an affair with a woman who will go to any lengths to get what she wants, but is she a spirit or a dream? Life and death isn’t what you think it is.

Q. When might we expect to see it available in print?

A. After it is edited, formatted, and has cover art.  There isn’t a projected release date as of yet.

Q. How about long versus short fiction? Is one or the other easier for you to write? Is there a difference in your style, or how you approach each story?

A. I’m a huge fan of short fiction for a variety of reasons. Strange things can happed without explanation.  It’s easier to explore something that would normally seem completely absurd, and if it doesn’t work, no big deal. If it does work, you can build upon it and turn it into something bigger. That being said, I’m beginning to really enjoy writing longer works. The novel I’m currently writing has almost written itself. I’ve had virtually no blocks or hang-ups so far, and the end is in my sights. Once I’m finished with it I will undoubtedly write a few shorts before beginning the next large project.

Q. I wanted to give you an opportunity to relay anything else you might want to speak about, before we wrap this up. Anything else to share?

A. Looks like you pretty much covered everything that’s been going on lately. I post updates and other delusions at my blog at least once a week, so drop on by and follow if you like. Friend me on facebook. Look for the books we discussed coming later this year, and hopefully I’ll continue to have good news and great announcements to share concerning my fiction.

I’d like to thank Mr. Robert Essig for stopping by to chat with us about some very exciting projects. You can find more about him at his website HERE and on his Amazon author page HERE. Thank you Robert, and best of luck to you with your writing ventures.